How to clear CA – Final Paper 6: Information Systems and Control Audit

​Since it’s that time of the year again, that dreaded time that every CA student knows about, I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, so you don’t need to worry.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

How to clear your ISCA paper:

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is with the combined implementation of these three which helps a student write the exam successfully.

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:

  • Study Material
  • Practice Manual
  • The most recent two RTPs
  • Last four to six Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)

It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books. Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.

1) Study Material: This book is your EVERYTHING for ISCA. Every word, every sentence, every sub-heading is very important in clearing this exam. There are eight chapters. Target one a day, learn them by heart, revise, memorize and just learn everything in the Study Material from page one till the end.

2) Practice Manual: For ISCA, the PM is more like a guide to check how much you were able to memorize from what you studied from the SM. Don’t think that studying just the practice manual will get you through for sure. This book is ONLY for revision.

3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least two RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.

4) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real exam feeling, set the clock to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.

TIME MANAGEMENT

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period doesn’t involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion.

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 – 12 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start studying, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all subjects.  So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part under ISCA covers ‘Ch 3 – Protection of IS’, ‘Ch 4 – BCP and DRM’ and ‘Ch 5 – Acquisition, Development and Implementation of IS’ while the ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters. Please note that these are falling into the ‘Minor’ portion not because of lack of importance but because they are fairly less time consuming to study.

My strategy was to create flowcharts for all the eight chapters. Ideally, Chapter 1 and 8 are the easiest of them all. But the rest can be tricky. To get a bird’s eye view of every topic, we need to understand the sub-topics and concepts under them. What better way to do that than to create flowcharts? They are simple, attractive and make great substitutes for short notes.

Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where your brain is completely awake! For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.

Your target is to complete the Study Material in 10 to 12 days. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 – 12 hours per day only for this subject, then give yourself a target of 5 – 8 days only. It is easily achievable because the portion is fairly minimal.

RTPs (2) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 3 – 4 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is.

PRESENTATION

Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously.  A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.

1) ISCA is 100% theoretical. It is dry and difficult to remember. Underline the sub-headings in every answer.

2) Use bullet points and split lengthy answers into paragraphs as much as is possible

3) Definitions are very scoring but also tricky to answer if you don’t remember keywords. Present those well.

And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.

Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.

So, that’s all I have for you today.

Coming up next is my tips for DIRECT TAX LAWS.
I hope you have a wonderful day.

Leave a Reply